Black Tea Jelly

Tea Jelly & Toast & TeaBlack Tea Jelly is a low-sugar cooked jelly made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener. See below for where to buy. This recipe was created by Allison Carroll Duffy for Pomona’s Pectin.

Allison says:  Since there are few other ingredients to hide behind, the tea you use will make a difference. I used Irish Breakfast tea for this recipe, but most any variety of black tea is fine, as long as it’s fresh and of good quality. Also, use loose leaf tea, not tea bags. Often tea that is in a bag is granular or powdery, as is some loose tea. You’ll want to avoid any granular or powdery tea, and instead use loose leaf tea. The reason for this is simply that the strength of tea can vary quite a bit depending on how it was processed.

Also, even if you don’t typically use lemon in your tea, be sure to use it in your tea jelly as called for, as lemon juice is important in making this jelly safe to can.

Yield: 4 to 5 cups

Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Black Tea Jelly Ingredients

6 Tablespoons loose black tea leaves
4¼ cups boiling water
¼ cup lemon juice
4½ teaspoons calcium water
1 cup sugar
4½ teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder

Black Tea Jelly Directions

1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.

2. Place the tea leaves in a heat-proof bowl, then pour the boiling water into the bowl. Allow tea to steep for 10 minutes. Then, pour the tea through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth into another container, reserving the tea liquid, and discarding the tea leaves.

3. Measure out 4 cups of the tea. (If you don’t have quite enough, just add a little bit more water.) Pour the measured amount of tea into a large sauce pan. Add the lemon juice and calcium water, then stir to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.

5. Bring the tea mixture up to a rolling boil over high heat. Add sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return jelly to a boil, then remove from heat.

6. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jelly, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).

7. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)

8. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.

9. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then, confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.

Recipe and photo by Allison Carroll Duffy

Allison’s complete blog post on Black Tea Jelly.

For more inspiring recipe ideas, see Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The Revolutionary Low-Sugar, High-Flavor Method for Crafting and Canning Jams, Jellies, Conserves, and More by Allison Carroll Duffy and the Pomona’s Partners, published by Fair Winds Press, June 2013, and available in paper or ebook everywhere books are sold.

Pomona’s Pectin is available at your local natural food store, food co-op, and many farm stands. Find it also at Sur La Table and a growing number of more conventional grocery stores with natural food sections (Wegmans, Hy-Vee, Rosauers, Nugget Markets, Coborns, Fairway, and others). If you can’t find a store near you on our store locator, you can order from our website or many other online sellers.

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9 thoughts on “Black Tea Jelly

  1. This recipe is delicious! I made it last night and I’m glad I ended up with some extra for the fridge. However, now that it has cooled I see that mine didn’t gel enough. Maybe I mis-measured the pectin? I’m going to open up the jars today, reheat, add another cup of brewed black tea and 1/4 of the called-for sugar and lemon juice, but I’ll add in a higher proportion of calcium water and pectin to firm it up. Then I’ll re-can it.

    • Hello Tanya,
      If you just made the jam last night, consider giving it a full 24 hours to jell completely.

      Have you looked at our page on the website: My Jam or Jelly Didn’t Jell — Can I Fix It?

      You might want to take a minute to look at possible issues and fixes before re-making. Also, did you put a jar in the refrigerator to see if that brings on the jell?

      If you do remake it with more tea, you would only need to add more calcium water for the new tea — no need to add more for the rest of it unless you think you didn’t add the correct amount in the first place.

      I hope this makes sense — please do let me know what you do!

      • The little bit extra that went into the fridge gelled to a soft gel – enough that I am happy with it. That page you sent is SO useful right now! I will put one of the jars in the fridge now to do that test, and hopefully it’ll stay gelled after being taken out so I can do it with the rest of them.

        It’s so thoughtful of you to reach out! I’m thankful for your help and tips.

  2. Would it be possible to sub a different type of tea like green or oolong or a fruit tea? Is the pH different for different types of tea? I would like to try a blood orange tea infusion jelly.

    • Dear Vanessa,
      As Allison says in the recipe, any variety of black tea is okay for this recipe.

      Our understanding is that green tea is less acidic than black tea and herbal teas even less acidic.

      If you want to make a jelly with a green tea or herbal tea infusion you would want to use the Herb Jelly recipe on the website, which calls for more lemon juice — 1/2 cup lemon juice for 4 cups of infusion.

      I hope this helps — and happy jamming!

    • Hi John,
      We don’t have a tested recipe for coffee jelly, but you can try substituting coffee for the tea in this recipe. Since black coffee has a pH of around 5.0, it is really important to add the 1/4 cup of lemon juice to 4 cups of coffee (or 1 Tablespoon per cup of coffee) to be sure it is safe for water bath canning.

      We, and others, have had mixed results in trying to jell coffee with Pomona’s Pectin. You may need up to 5 teaspoons of pectin powder for 4 cups of coffee to get a good jell. You can keep the calcium water the same as in the black tea jelly recipe.

      Our advice would be to start with a small batch and see how it jells. You just need to do the math and cut back equally on all ingredients.

      And we’d love to hear your results if you do give it a try.

      Thanks for using Pomona’s Pectin — and happy jamming!

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